its day by Hollywood's A-list celebrities, just 52 of
the Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed Ghia
450 SS convertibles were eventually built through an
usual partnership, and one of the survivors of this
overlooked classic is set to go under the hammer at
Gooding's Scottsdale Auction later this month with an
estimated price of US$125,000-175,000. In an uncanny
link to the present day, the Ghia 450 SS in effect mates
a Fiat-inspired design to a Chrysler chassis.
tale of the Ghia 450 SS began in the early 1960s when famed
Hollywood producer Burt Sugarman spotted the Ghia-bodied
Fiat G230S Coupe on the cover of the latest issue of Road
& Track. Mr. Sugarman was so taken with the clean modern
lines fashioned by legendary Italian designer Giorgetto
Giugiaro that he contacted Ghia in Turin, Italy. In an
amazing feat of persuasion, Mr. Sugarman managed to convince
Ghia to create a limited-production convertible based on the
and he then formed a new company, Ghia of America.
The exotic cars, which were fitted with a 235 bhp Mopar 273
CID OHV “Commando” V8 engine coupled to a 3-Speed
TorqueFlite automatic transmission and used many other
Chrysler components, were each listed for over US$11,000, a
staggering sum comparable to the most expensive Ferraris, Maseratis and Rolls-Royce.
By the end of
production, only 52 of these beauties were completed, and
all were sold through an exclusive Beverly Hills dealership.
It is no surprise that many of the Ghia motorcars were
originally owned by celebrities, including Johnny Carson,
Wilt Chamberlain and, of course, Burt Sugarman.
Set to be presented
annual Gooding & Company
Scottsdale Auction on Saturday, January 23, will be one of
the finest examples of this rare Ghia Convertible known to
exist. It is reported that this stunning 450 SS has been
treated to an impressive ground-up restoration under the
supervision of a California-based Ghia enthusiast.
Apparently, this gentleman would find one great Ghia-bodied
car at a time and restore it to the highest of standards.
Finished in silver with an eye-catching, cinnamon-like
leather interior, this particular 450 SS truly looks the
part of a late-1960s boulevard cruiser and, in many ways, is
quite comparable to the legendary Dual-Ghia, one of which is
also to be consigned at the Scottsdale Auction.
owner, a collector of some of the finest coachbuilt
automobiles, purchased this car out of California and it has
since been lovingly maintained in his collection. The car is
said to be a thrill to drive and one can get lost marveling
in its many unique features, from its push-button door
handles to the bespoke instrumentation. Although the clean
lines and modern conveniences give this car a great
mid-century feel, its chrome wire wheels, inimitable style
and custom-built status hark back to the time when
automobiles were individually fitted and designed for their
owners’ tastes and needs.
Of the fifty-two
hand-made 450 SS models constructed, approximately half are
known to survive; however, very few of the known examples
have been the subject of such a high-quality restoration.
Moreover, rarely do these fascinating cars appear for public
sale, making this a unique and exciting opportunity. In
addition, this Ghia is offered with an original factory
brochure that outlines the specifics of the rare 450 SS. One of the most
fascinating and evocative automotive stories of the 1960s,
the 450 SS will also be remembered as one of the last Ghia –
if not the very last – Ghia-produced automobiles before the
company was taken over by Ford. For the collector who enjoys
a great conversation piece, a wonderful story or a
distinctive coachbuilt sports car, this sublime 450 SS
should appeal on every level.
Text & Photos:
Gooding & Company